Hello again!

Before I get to the questions for this week, I wanted to toss out a quick thanks to the Associated Students for sponsoring the Isla Vista town hall meeting a few weeks ago. It was a great success and provided a great opportunity for about 200 people to question the authorities. We often go into these talks a little nervous about how we are going to be received by the students and residents, but we were challenged with great questions from a lot of people who really cared about I.V. and Halloween. Kudos to A.S. for their hard work. I’m looking forward to the next town hall meeting and a chance to meet more of the community!

Now, on to the questions!

Do cops have quotas? Do they get a bonus for writing a bunch of tickets?

No, there’s no free toaster for every five beer tickets we write. People often talk of quotas and how the police need to show a certain number of busts every shift, but actually it’s illegal for a police department to require a certain amount of arrests (California Vehicle Code 41602) by an officer. Besides being illegal, it does nothing to improve the relations between the community and the police if a certain number of citizens will be arrested every day. That just doesn’t work. There may be times when an officer is directed to increase his enforcement of a certain location due to problems. For example, if a certain traffic intersection has problems with accidents, officers may be directed to increase the amount of enforcement on those who are running the red light or speeding.

Last week, I had a party at my apartment. The music was too loud after midnight, so I got a ticket. I understand why I got the ticket, but the cops just walked into my apartment without asking permission. Isn’t this a violation of my rights?

Tough question. It all depends on the circumstances of your party. Can we just walk into someone’s home whenever we feel like it? Nope. The law looks at a person’s home as his castle and the right to privacy inside of those walls is a crucial part of your rights. However, there are times when officers do have the right to walk into your home without asking.

The most common reason, and most likely in your situation, is when you are having a party that is open to anyone, i.e. randoms, you have opened your apartment to the public. The police can go anywhere that is open to the public, including your party. Do we make it a common practice to just randomly walk into open parties in I.V.? Nope. Believe it or not, in all of the years I’ve worked in I.V., I have never walked into an apartment party for no reason. If the cops are inside of the party, there is almost always a reason.

Before I go, I want to encourage everyone to say hello to the deputies and officers you see walking through the town in the upcoming weeks. With the upcoming holiday breaks there is an increase in the number of burglaries and thefts. The cops will be spending a lot of time walking the back alleys and cold streets in the early hours of the morning trying to protect your homes. They don’t have it easy, but it’s amazing how just a few people saying hello makes it all that much easier and reminds us why we are there.

So to all, be safe and take care.

To ask UCPD Crime Prevention Officer Mark Signa a question, e-mail him at msigna@police.ucsb.edu.